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Distinctions Among Wilderness

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Distinctions Among Wilderness

In our lives, wilderness is one aspect that always comes back to us one way or another. Wilderness, the term itself is not limited to any universal definition. Hence people interpret the phrase with their understanding of the etymology of wilderness. Hunter-gathering societies believe there was and is no distinction between the wilderness and other environments. They view wilderness as one with no central dichotomy1. Likewise, prior research revealed that Americans considered wilderness as civilizations and wild are set apart, quoting what Henry David Thoreau once famously declared, “In Wildness is the preservation of the World2.” Hence, this highlights the diverse articulations of wilderness among different communities. This article will present contradictions in terms of lifestyle and the nature of the place, among three representations of the wilderness: primitive wilderness, the essence of practical use, and exploration with textual evidence from Snow Leopard, Mill on the Floss, and Tracks respectively.

To commence with, the first representation I will examine is primitive wilderness, which is apparent in forests. Subsequently, it illustrates nature as wild, untamed, and dangerous, filled with poisonous plants and along with predators lurking around. Furthermore, such an unabridged and rugged temperant is evident in the text Snow Leopard, the group eye-witnessed a wolf hunt in the lofty hills. “Six sheep are springing for the cliffs, but a pair of wolves coming straight downhill are cutting off the rearmost animal3,” this proffers the intensity of the pursuit. Moreover, it is noteworthy that they utilized telescopes and binoculars to scrutinize the hunt at a distance from their tents. Hence, this indicates that they did not dare to observe such a hunt from close by as it carries potential threats. Another textual evidence from the text is, “wild dogs make a zebra kill in that strange storm light on the plain, and all those thousand animals running4.” As a result, these ruthless and carnivorous behaviors send shivers of fear down the spine. Therefore, it is hard to determine what lies beyond the blackness of such wilderness and emphasizes the shady side of the wilderness.

Furthermore, the second expression of wilderness is regarded from a utilitarian approach, considering it in the essence of practical use. Scilicet, utilizing the cultivated ground for agriculture and rearing livestock. In other words, it is portrayed as a pastoral element, defined as pertaining to shepherds5. For instance, descriptions from Mill on the Floss such as, "the patch of dark earth made ready for the seed of board-leaved green crops or touched already with the tint of the tender-bladed autumn-snow corn" and “fresh-scented-fir-planks, with rounded sacks of oil-bearing seed” suggests the presence of farming6. Moreover, the mill on the farm and the stream highlight the agrarian lifestyle in the wilderness. Farming and ranching are the most compelling and promising ways of living in the wilderness. As a matter of fact, 97% of the population is active in agriculture, indicating the popularity and success of farming as a lifestyle7. Thus, wilderness is represented through its valuable usefulness, i.e., agriculture, which exemplifies the connection between humans and nature.

Additionally, wilderness is also a place portrayed for exploration. Nature is regarded as a prominent walk of heaven that has boundless surprises and bizarre wonders. For instance, evidently in deserts, mountainous regions, and artic places. Hence, people like to explore these spectacles through various activities and journeys. Taking ourselves as a prime example, our daily activities are surrounded by modernization and absorbed by the insanity of the city. Nonetheless, when we long for peace or composure, we often tend back to the wilderness. For instance, rock climbing, forest trekking, and river paddling. Subsequently, they are known as wilderness holidays or nature-based tourism. Furthermore, Robyne Davidson's expedition across the desert of Western Australia is a perfect illustration to accentuate the conquest of nature. Besides, she cites that 'the country I was traveling through held my undivided attention with its diversity8,' showcasing the aesthetic impulse of wilderness. All in all, experiences in the wilderness amplify one's individual growth and development. Through her voyage, she cities that even maps cannot record every detail of nature, and a person has to have confidence in their sense of direction. It is concludable that nature is bountiful and that only through exploration can we truly see the limitlessness of wilderness.

Amongst the three distinct models of wilderness, the first extensive contrasting point concerns lifestyle. Only in the second representation, conveying cultivated settings is where you can make a viable living in the long term. In addition, the rationale is that you can plant crops or raise livestock prosperously for livelihood, as described in Mill on the Floss. Hence, allowing you to enjoy a stable and fruitful life with simple a lifestyle. However, in the alternative representations comparatively, it is much more challenging to comprehend a sustainable lifestyle. Yet, in the first expression of wilderness, it is formidable to reside permanently there. Envision living in a forest is the reliable prime method to access food by hunting or fishing. Nevertheless, it is not significantly reliable in the long run. Not to mention, a wilderness as a place for exploration, such as a desert or arctic region, could pose numerous challenges to making a lifestyle too. Take Robyne Davidson's tracks as a prime example, she describes how she has to look for water and food and simply brought canned food along such as sardines9. Thus, this highlights the potential hardships in the long run. In conclusion, it is observable that not every place in the wilderness is suitable for adopting a sustainable lifestyle.

Next, I will examine the contrasts in the three representations of wilderness in terms of perceiving the nature of the place. As established above, the foremost representation of wilderness stands as dangerous and unsafe, given its wild and dark essence. Every moment you are courting a risk of being attacked by a wild beast. Thus, you ought to be alert and prepared around the clock as it is perilous. Hence, wilderness is interpreted as a dismal place to be feared. Concurrently, the wilderness from the second representation reflects a calm and safe nature. It delivers an emotion of deep sympathy and less compromisation with the wild. In the text Mill on the Floss, the author stared at the vivid green landscape to an extent her arms are benumbed, without the realization of time10. Thence, such wilderness signifies the deep relation and harmony between humans and nature. As quoted from the reader, 'nature is a living companion to us11.'Additionally, the third depiction of wilderness halts loneliness and contemporary opinion of nature. With reference to the excerpt in Robyne Davidson Tracks, ‘I felt very small and very lonely suddenly in this great emptiness. I could climb a hill and look to where the horizon shimmered blue into the sky and see nothing. Absolutely nothing12.'This underscores that the wilderness experiences are thrilling, the site can be a picturesque beauty, yet broadcast desolation and emptiness. In comparison, the first representation brings about the impression of a pessimistic or dark wilderness. Meanwhile, the second representation deploys a spiritually nourishing vibe, and the third a notion of both bleakness and excitement. Therefore, the contrast in the wilderness underlines the various natures and emotions set out by the sites.

In conclusion, through the three different texts, Snow Leopard, the Mill on the Floss, and Robyne Davidson, it is seen that wilderness can be represented from the perspectives of primitiveness, agriculture, and exploration respectively. Furthermore, the major contrast among the three types of wildernesses is in terms of adaptable lifestyle and the nature of the place.

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  1. Short.J.R. (1991) Imagined Country: Environment, Culture and Society: Chapter 1 page 5. London and New York Routledge.
  2. Cronon, W. (n.d.). The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature. William Cronon.
  3. Matthiessen.P. (1978). Snow Leopard: page 183. London Vintage.2010
  4. Matthiessen.P. (1978). Snow Leopard: page 184. London Vintage.2010
  5. Short.J.R. (1991) Imagined Country: Environment, Culture, and Society: Chapter 2 page 28. London and New York Routledge.
  6. Elios. G. (1860). the Mill on the Floss: Chapter 1 page 7. Oxford Wond’s Classic Edition. 2008
  7. Ritchie, H. (2021, July 8). Farm Size. Our World in Data.
  8. Davidson, R. (1980). Tracks: Chapter 6, Page 113. New York Vintage. 2014
  9. Davidson, R. (1980). Tracks: Chapter 6, Page 114. New York Vintage. 2014
  10. Elios. G. (1860). the Mill on the Floss: Chapter 1 page 8. Oxford Wond’s Classic Edition. 2008
  11. Elios. G. (1860). the Mill on the Floss: Chapter 1 page 7. Oxford Wond’s Classic Edition. 2008
  12. Davidson, R. (1980). Tracks: Chapter 6, Page 118. New York Vintage. 2014

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